Nippori: the hidden jewel of Tokyo

Recently, I've had people hanging shit on where I live because it's not cool or fashionable.  But, you know, I don't care about living somewhere cool and/or fashionable. 

I've lived in cool areas before and you wanna know what happens - every weekend your neighbourhood gets flooded with people from other places wanting a piece of your coolness.  They block the streets and take up all the tables at your favourite cafe.  Then they decided to move in and buy up all the property and the rents skyrocket and you can't afford to live there any more so you move somewhere else.... and suddenly somewhere becomes cool.

Anyway, regardless of cool factor, my neighbourhood is pretty awesome.  I was wandering around on the weekend and there are so many interesting little galleries and stuff.  It's not like say Kichijoji or Koenji, where people need to have a big neon sign saying "look I'm cool, I dress in COOL clothes, I go to COOL parties, I lisen to COOL music."  Instead it's like people just getting on with creating stuff and doing what they want to do. 

So, I present to you - Nippori, the hidden jewel of Tokyo (*note: I don't actually live in Nippori)
#1 Awesome roses near the train station.  These roses are the brightest red I've ever seen.  Like glow in the dark red.  You probably can't tell that from my dodgy picture.

011 These are not the flowers near the train station but they look pretty cool anyway.

012#2 Yanaka Cemetery

This place is awesome.  The last Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate and therefore the last Shogun of Japan is buried there.  Plus some other shoguns.  If I could make a movie, I’d totally make one about them coming back to modern day Japan as zombies (actually I think I recently saw a trailer for similar movie with with samurais and set in Osaka – oh yeah, I’m so going to see that).

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That last picture is one of the favourite photos I’ve taken – I call it death, sex and sky tree!

Okay, technically the Yanaka cemetery is in Yanaka not Nippori but, since it’s next to Nippori station, it counts.  Some people think I’m macabre for enjoying hanging at the cemetery (I got called “emo” by one of my schoolmates) but it’s so peaceful and shady.  Also, you can take your friends there for drinks when they visit Japan.  Apparently, the dead people drink One Cup and ride bicycles.

#3 Yanaka Ginza
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Again, this Yanaka but hey… this is one of my favourite shopping strips around.  There are loads of really awesome old shops.  In the photo of the cat (that’s a fake cat, by the way), you can see the picture on the roof of the original, Edo period building on the site.  All the shops have these.

There is apparently a really famous candy shop on the street also famous food shops that have HAVE BEEN VISITED BY TEREBI TALENTO!  OMG! 

The best thing about Yanaka Ginza though is there are a few old sake shops and they have beer on tap and milk crates for you to sit outside on.  It’s very relaxing on a sunny day and sometimes there are beagles!

#4 - Nippori Toneri liner

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Oh yeah, it’s a driverless train which is awesome because, when your friends visit from overseas, you can take them on it and they can pretend to be the driver.  Of course, I’m far too jaded now to be excited by that (ok, that’s a total lie – I’m still excited by it).

Other random awesome stuff:

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This may look like just another karaoke place – and, to be honest it is, but it’s dirt cheap and close to home.  I do some of my best work there.  I mean singing of course.  They have video cameras in those karaoke rooms. 

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There are ramen places all over Japan but this place, the guys make their own noodles.  Usually you can see them at this window, slamming the noodle dough onto the bench.  It’s fun to watch.  I’ve never eaten there because the menu is in complicated kanji.

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There are also Excelsior coffee shops all over Japan but this one is tops because it is very spacious.  You can sit down with a coffee and have all your Japanese notes spread out all over the place and not have to move them when someone comes to sit down.  It’s those small things that make me happy sometimes.  Also you can watch the guys from the place above making noodles.

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Event square – to be honest, the only event I’ve only every seen is a few stalls set up selling stuff.  Mostly the event square is used by kids doing BMX tricks.  Who knew they still did that kind of shit?

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There is also Nippori fabric town which is totally famous for … yep, fabric.  I have no photos of it because I couldn’t be bothered walking the two blocks there the other day.  But it’s shops with stacks of fabric (it all seems to be precut and not on rolls) so use your imagination.  (Edit:  I have posted about Nippori Fabric Town here.)

The final awesome thing, that I also don’t have a photo of, is the bar I go to sometimes. 

So that’s the awesomeness of Nippori.  Maybe I should keep it a hidden jewel to avoid it becoming too cool, but I’m far to generous for that.

Check out more fabbo places in Japan at the J-Festa Matsuri.
Travelling soon? Make sure you check out my recommendations, all places I've personally stayed and would book again.
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